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Controlling What We Can Control: Self-Awareness and Self-Management

Controlling What We Can Control: Self-Awareness and Self-Management

During day to day life, there are so many things out of our control that it can feel overwhelming to think about. Our emotions may be all over the place. We might be:

  • Worried about ourselves and those around us
  • Happy to have time to read or connect with our children
  • Challenged by the same children a minute later, as we try to work at home
  • Pleased for the ability to take care of tasks at home we have not had time for
  • Tired of the restrictions
  • Concerned about what happens when restrictions are lifted

Some of us are in the midst of grief and loss for those we love; others experience grief and loss for their routines and freedoms. Often, we experience many different emotions all in one day.

It can feel like a roller coaster. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to help regulate our emotions and soothe ourselves when things in our environment feel out of our control.

One way you can manage the roller coaster of feelings is to build self-awareness by creating several moments in the day where you can pause to check in with yourself. Take time to identify the emotions you are feeling and why you are feeling them. When you identify your emotions, you can more effectively measure your reactions to them.

Next, identify where you have control to help you manage your emotions. For instance:

  • We may not be able to control when this will end, but we can control how we spend some of our time
  • We cannot control the actions of others, but we can control our own response
  • We cannot control the messages given to us by the news or social media, but we can control how often we watch
  • We cannot control the resources our students have, but we can control letting them know that we care

Once you have identified what you have control over, then you can begin to think about how to respond. Here are some things you CAN do that help with self-management:

  • Meet your essential needs for sleep, nutrition, and activity
  • Break tasks into small, doable chunks
  • Create a routine
  • Be forgiving of yourself
  • Take breaks
  • Talk to others about what you are feeling
  • Practice kindness and gratitude

Don’t be afraid to seek support if you are feeling overwhelmed. Resources like 211 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are always there to help.

Remember that, like a roller coaster, we all have different experiences in this situation. Depending on the news, the day, or the minute, we could go from feeling fear and despair to hope and joy. Some people have the resources to weather the ride better than others, and some are barely holding on. When we practice compassion for ourselves, we are more likely to be our best selves when caring for our students and those who need us.

Want to learn more about tips for coping with your emotions during this time? Check out this recorded webinar on Using SEL Strategies to Navigate in Times of Crisis.

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Jen Perry

Jen Perry currently serves as the Director, Whole Learning and SEL at Edmentum. Jen joined Edmentum as the Learning Designer for Social-Emotional Learning after 30+ years of work with youth in educational and community settings. As a teacher, administrator, and trainer, her passion has been to help educators develop an understanding of the importance of social and emotional learning and build trauma-informed responses and systems. This work has included supporting youth, administrators, and schools in understanding behavior and implementing transformational change through strength-based approaches.